Ziegfeld Theatre

141 W. 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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YMike on February 27, 2006 at 1:56 am

“The Great Ziegfeld” had an overture and that film was released in 1936. I know “The Sign Of The Cross” had an intermission but I am not sure about an overture. The original “King Kong” had an overture. It has been restored to the film in its recent DVD release.

YMike on February 27, 2006 at 1:56 am

“The Great Ziegfeld” had an overture and that film was released in 1936. I know “The Sign Of The Cross” had an intermission but I am not sure about an overture. The original “King Kong” had an overture. It has been restored to the film in its recent DVD release.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 26, 2006 at 4:28 pm

I guess I thought the lion was roaring because there was music and Leo was moving due to the gentle undulations of the sheer traveler curtain. Funny tricks the mind plays sometimes.

veyoung52 on February 26, 2006 at 2:09 pm

It may not be the earliest, but “Birth of a Nation” was road-shown at the NT Liberty, incidentally, the same theatre where the live play “The Klansman,” on with BOAN was based, was introduced. Roadshows, in one form or another, with or without prologue/overture/intermission/entr'acte have been around for decades.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 26, 2006 at 1:56 pm

I was wondering if anyone could identify exactly when the roadshow presentation of a film began? And by that, I mean a film with overture and intermission with entr'acte, booked into an exclusive engagement with reserved seating. I caught the beginning of “Gone With the Wind” today on TMC and I noticed that there was an overture. I know there’s an intermission (and assume there is entr'acte music) and was wondering if all of this was part of the original presentation or if it was added later when the film received a cropped 70mm “widescreen” re-release decades later.

Were there overtures and intermissions during the silent era? I know the roadshow hey day was in the ‘50’s and '60’s and that films of great length were few and far between in prior to that, but were there other earlier films like “GWTW” that had this sort of presentation? For example, “The Best Years of Our Lives” clocks in at nearly three hours, did it include an intermission? I’m probably asking more than one question here, but any history about the history of overture and intermission in American cinema and how that evolved into the roadshow presentations of the '50’s and '60’s would be greatly appreciated.

JSA on February 24, 2006 at 2:31 pm

Regarding Lawrence of Arabia’s ability to impact present-day audiences, my thoughts are that it will. By virtue of its powerful images and literate script, it will connect emotionally with anyone who’s passionate about film, regardless of political or social inclination.

Ed: you’re right, the MGM lion doesn’t roar on Ben-Hur. He did roar financially however, since Ben-Hur was the top grossing picture for 1959 & 1960. And the 11 Academy Awards didn’t hurt him.

I believe that for its 40th Anniversary, some 70 MM/DTS prints of “Lawrence” were made.

From what I can gather, there are probably only two 70 MM prints of “Ben-Hur” in existence. Hopefully someone can correct me.

The last time I heard of a 70 MM print of “West Side Story” was in 1993.



Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 24, 2006 at 2:13 pm

Ed is right about the MGM lion. It’s one of only two MGM movies I can think of where the lion doesn’t roar. The other is “2001”. It was lucky for them: two of MGM’s finest pictures and biggest hits. Maybe someone knows if there are any more (not counting silent movies).

Pete: the original mono soundtrack was a most welcome addition to last year’s “Vertigo” DVD re-release. Bernard Herrmann’s music sounded great in the loud stereo mix, but the sound effects were terrible – all wrong. Very distracting.

PeterApruzzese on February 24, 2006 at 1:08 pm


Thanks for the correction re: Vertigo. That’ll teach me to trust my memory rather than looking it up! :)

Now I’ll have to start my disagreement with Robert A. Harris all over again regarding the awful stereo sound remix on Vertigo, he claimed DTS had nothing to do with it, while the DTS people I spoke to at the premiere told me specifically that DTS contributed their portion of the funding for the “restoration” only if the film had a “loud” multi-channel mix rather than the correct and proper mono mix.

Vito on February 24, 2006 at 11:24 am

Hello Michael, I wondered, as our 70mm resident expert, you might give your facts or opinions on what happened to 70mm/DTS. When it first came along I rhought there was real hope for the same resurgence of 70mm we had in the 80s, all the eliments were there, the huge cost of magnetic stripping the prints was eliminated and the cost to theatres, already equipt for 35mm DTS, would be only a 70mm reader, I even invisioned a reader that could accomadate both 35 and 70. So what happened? was it the Digital picture revolution, which by the way has not exactly set the movie biz on fire, when is the last time you saw a movie presented in a digital picture format.
It just seemed to make good sense, I even thought perhaps Dolby would find a way to include digital sound codeing on 70mm prints.
Alas, other than a few pictures, as you indicated, it never came to pass. What are your thoughts?

Coate on February 24, 2006 at 9:04 am

And it looks like I need to restore an “e” to “restoration”! :–)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 24, 2006 at 9:03 am

Saps… I’m happy Joe the projectionist payed some respect to the presentation of “Ben-Hur” the night you saw it. When I attended a screening on Saturday at 4:30, however, they did run about 5 or 6 commercial spots before turning the lights down for the overture, so the fact that they weren’t played for your screening didn’t have anything to do with the length of the movie, as HowardBHaas suggests – unless theater staff just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible that night!

Also, minor point, but I don’t think the MGM lion actually roars or moves at all for “Ben-Hur”… I remember noticing that the logo appeared to be a still photo.

Looking forward to the 70mm “Lawrence” and keeping my fingers crossed for a 70mm “2001” some time down the line.

Coate on February 24, 2006 at 8:59 am

70mm-DTS was used on “Vertigo.” In fact, it had been developed earlier than that and was tested on the Harris/Katz rstoration of “My Fair Lady” a couple years prior to the “Vertigo” restoration.

VincentParisi on February 24, 2006 at 7:54 am

I wonder if Lawrence today can have the same emotional impact it had in the late 80’s early 90’s consdidering what we have been through historically.
I saw it 3 times when the Ziegfeld showed the restored film and was blown away by it.
However considering our ambivilant views towards the Arab world and Islam today how can we emotially respond to it? Does it make the British actions seem all the more horrifying or do they gain in sympathy?

PeterApruzzese on February 24, 2006 at 6:20 am

I’m not sure that’s correct, William. When the Vertigo restoration was done there wasn’t 70mm DTS which was introduced, IIRC, with Titanic in 1997.

William on February 24, 2006 at 6:01 am

The Ziegfeld ran “Vertigo” in 70MM and DTS sound during it’s restored engagement. Sony did had dual inventories of prints on “Lawrence”.

PeterApruzzese on February 24, 2006 at 5:45 am

I believe Sony only has the newer prints in inventory of Lawrence that were struck just a couple of years ago, this is what the Ziegfeld showed last time they ran it. I don’t remember the sound format, but I’m leaning towards it having been magnetic and not DTS.

PeterApruzzese on February 24, 2006 at 5:39 am

From what I understand, Sony only has the newer prints that were struck a couple of years ago, which the Ziegfeld played at that time. I don’t remember what sound format it was, however.

William on February 24, 2006 at 5:21 am

The next question for Clearview is what 70MM print of “Lawrence of Arabia” have then booked and need to advertise. Because there are 70MM DTS and 70MM Magnetic prints available on this title. Remember these Director’s Cut prints are used and have been around for a few years too.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 24, 2006 at 4:54 am

The schedule is up for the 70mm Lawrence of Arabia shows: 2:30 and 7:30 every day for one week (except no late show on Wednesday). You know what that means: INTERMISSION!

VincentParisi on February 24, 2006 at 4:09 am

All this talk about projectionists. I remember seeing 2001 at the Rivoli in 76. I hadn’t seen the film for years since when I was a boy and really remembered nothing about it except it was boring as hell and the kids matinee I saw it at in the suburbs practically rioted at the stupid plot turns(if you can call them that.)

When I saw it again at the Riv it was one of the greatest cinema experieces of my life and at the end of the first half just as you realize Hal is spying the huge curtains started closing in on the Rivoli’s magnificent curved screen absolutely perfectly timed.
I was in shock.

Vito on February 24, 2006 at 2:51 am

I agree Stan, I mean it’s a whole lot better than watching Gene Kelly dancing with no head or just his head and no feet :)

StanMalone on February 24, 2006 at 2:39 am

About 10 years ago I ran “Singing In The Rain” and if my memory is correct, it was one of those windowboxed prints mentioned above. That is, it was a 1:85 frame with the 1:33 image in the middle and black bars on each side. At this particular theatre the masking was moved manually by stagehands so we were able to bring it in to the 1:33 setting. Even if a theatre has only a flat / scope masking set up, the black bars were hardly noticable unless you were looking for them. Not the best solution perhaps, but when you remember that 99% of theatres have no 1:33 lenses, plates, or masking, or have anyone on staff that knows the difference, it is probably the best way to handle this situation.

Vito on February 24, 2006 at 1:24 am

The name of the test film is RP40 and can be purchased from most cinema supply houses. Theatres should have this tool to check the proper presentation of all aspect ratios, it is usually purchased in 50'lengths and can be made into a loop which can be run while cutting plates, setting masking, scope configeration and picture centering.

Vito on February 23, 2006 at 1:43 am

Congratulations to Joe the projectionist for doing it right. He is probably from the old school who enjoys “putting on a show” as much as we do seeing it done properly. Who knows, Joe may have read our comments and learned something :)
I would also like to suggest to Clearview that they invest in an
SMPTE test loop which will enable the tech/projectionist to cut the aperatures and mask the screen to the exact 1:33/1:37 ratio. I have seen too many theatres simply throw a white light on to the sheet and cut the plates to fill it. There is an exact science to presenting movies in the proper aspect ratio and all the tools needed are easily available.

HowardBHaas on February 22, 2006 at 10:00 pm

The Ben Hur presentation sounds wonderful! Realize, though, it might be that these movies were too long to include the commercials.

Thanks for the Gladiator attendence, but I don’t expect much during M to Thursday, and have nothing to compare. How’s Ben Hur doing during those days?

I’ve learned a lot volunteering to get a film program at Philadelphia’s Boyd when it reopens, and one thing is that it doesn’t cost much to get a new lens cut for the projector, to show the film in the correct aspect ratio. Since they showed Metropolis correctly at the Ziegfeld in 2002, they SHOULD already have the lens sitting in a box. We found many lens at the Sameric (the Boyd’s name when it closed), whole boxes full, so they likely have this at the Ziegfeld. Lens are particular to each auditorium, as Vito indicates above. Of course, “should” doesn’t always happen, so we will see soon.